ryandene3

One less bachelor

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Alright! It’s official. One of Baton Rouge’s (and the country’s) Most Eligible Bachelors is off the market. a HUGE congratulations goes out to Ryan and his terrific fiancée Dene! The happy occasion went down early this week and the couple is excited to announce that everyone now.

 

“I’ve never been so happier in my entire life, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with this incredible woman with me.”

 

Make sure you show love towards Ryan and Dene and wish them nothing but the best!
Now to plan a BRoke wedding…

#UnemployedLife: Hustle and Flow

Hustle

 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about the #unemployedlife, but the subject matter will make complete sense as to why I’ve been MIA.

Let me now say that while I’m officially unemployed, I am working on some projects and back in school. One of the major takeaways that I’ve noticed with being unemployed is how much work it is. When I had the ‘9-to-5’ and working hard to make a living, I busted my derriere at all of my many side hustles. Now that my side hustles are becoming my driving force to exist, it’s completely different. The motivation has changed. That’s simply because of the fact that here is nothing to fall back on; this is it.

Throughout this transition, I’ve been learning a lot about myself — what makes me tick, what truly motivates me and what makes me happy. I can tell you now that while I am not a robot, I’ve realized that it is OK to reflect emotion when necessary. Domo arigato!

I’m getting involved with things I truly care about and that means the world to me! However, the struggle is real, as are the limited hours in a day. Not to pull a Spano, but there’s never any time to get things done. So, with that being said, let me get to the grind, get to work and do…the hustle  (In case you’re rhythmically challenged — you’re welcome)

The Queen City on a Budget

Originally published in Deep South Magazine

Ideas for eats, arts, culture and fun on any budget in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

Known for being a national financial hub and its two athletic teams, Charlotte is a Southern city full of history, charm and delicious food. Josh Howard, co-creator and owner of 2BRokeGuys, a blog that focuses on travel and adventure on a budget, shares his favorite spots in the Queen City, some requiring no cash at all. And in celebration of the publication of 27 Views of Charlotte: The Queen City in Prose & Poetry this month, we’ve paired up a few of his listings with quotes from the book. Pick up a copy from Eno Publishers to learn more about Charlotte’s storied history, from its stint as capital of the Confederacy to headquarters of the “New South.”

Price Guide: $ = $0-$10, $$ = $11-$20, $$$ = $21-$30, $$$$ = $31 and up

EATS 

Mattie’s Diner
Located in the unique NC Music Factory district, this around-the-clock diner serves up a wide variety of food that will satisfy the night owl and the experienced foodie. I stuck with meatloaf, the all-American classic. Topped with a rich tomato sauce and piles of onions, Mattie’s Diner knocked it out of the park for only $9. Extra delight: If your stomach has the capacity, fill it up on one of their signature shakes.  $

7th Street Public Market
This place is ideal for the person who loves to have options when it comes to food. Also, it’s great for the pocketbook. In this urban market, you’ll find a butchery, sandwich shop, authentic sushi and handcrafted pizza.  After touring the open market full of groceries, craftsmen and artisans, I decided on “The T-Rex” atPure Pizza. The epically named pie featured cheese upon cheese, bacon, ground beef, sausage, pepperoni and added mushrooms for good measure. The organic pizza shop has several options on its menu, but after asking around, the T-Rex seems to be king.

My market tour wasn’t complete until I pulled up a stool at Not Just Coffee. The hipster-clad baristas elevate the cup of Joe into a euphoric experience here. While I usually enjoy keeping my coffee simple with a dark roast, I splurged for a caramel cortado, full of indulgence. Because the food options in the 7th Street Public Market are fresh and local, the costs are slightly higher, but the freshness and flavors are unparalleled and worth every penny. $-$$

One day, nearly thirty years ago, I walked into the Coffee Cup — and fell in love with Charlotte.” – “A Cup of Grace & Comfort” by Fannie Flono in 27 Views of Charlotte 

Brento-Box_Cowfish

The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar
We’re used to catfish in the South, but we could all expand our horizons when it comes to Cowfish. Located in a suburb of Charlotte called SouthPark, the creatively named restaurant greets you with pop art attributed to its title and the largest aquarium ever seen in an eatery. When you dine in, go big and for the box. I’m referring to the fusion of burger and sushi at its finest called “The Ultimate ‘Brento’ Bento Box.” It comes with a slider, sushi resembling the flavors of a burger and your choice of sides. This is the most unique surf and turf around Charlotte.  $$

Amelie’s French Bakery
Brownies are my ultimate favorite, and Amelie’s might have given me a new best friend. I’m referring to its infamous salted caramel brownie. The chocolate bar is dense, sweet and has the right amount of bite. Seriously, get it and do not worry about a diet or the line. Also noteworthy, the 24-hour bakery is in one of the coolest art spots in town called NoDa, short for North Davidson. $

ART & CULTURE

bechtler

Levine Center for the Arts
Located among the beautiful architecture and landscape of Uptown is the Levine Center for the Arts.  Encompassing the artistic triad of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and the Mint Museum of Art, the center anchors Charlotte’s culture mile, and each museum serves a unique experience in itself. Packaged together, they provide tourists and art enthusiasts access to some beautiful masterpieces for 48 hours for just $20. $$

For Charlotte, the Civil War was just the beginning. The Confederacy ended here, and the New South began. And the Levine Museum of the New South is doing just fine, thank you.” – “A Capital City” by David Goldfield in 27 Views of Charlotte

Billy Graham Library
Legendary evangelist Billy Graham is world-renowned for his teachings and advising to several of our nation’s presidents. Before his legendary spiritual career began, Graham lived on a dairy farm on the outskirts of Charlotte. Tucked away from a highway bearing his name is the library featuring his personal book collection, a prayer garden, dairy bar and a reconstruction of Graham’s childhood home. The library is free to visitors and a heartwarming experience for those from all walks of life. $

 

FUN 

NASCAR Hall of Fame
Gentlemen (and ladies) start your engine here at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Even though Daytona Beach is home to much of the origins of the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), Charlotte and surrounding North Carolina cities are key gears of auto racing’s history during Prohibition. Many of NASCAR’s top teams such as Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s crew at Hendrick Motorsports still reside in Charlotte. The Earnhardts and the complete, rich history of the sport can be seen at this enormous, interactive complex. If you have ever enjoyed playing with Hot Wheels, the life-sized versions in this museum will surely rev up your spirits. Also, visitors are able to get into the driver’s seat and/or be a member of the pit crew with a few of the attraction’s simulation activities for a few extra bucks. $$-$$$

… The building of Charlotte’s big speedway will endure three snowstorms, a stubborn slab of granite, and, perhaps not at all surprisingly, a little gunplay. It is the story of how NASCAR was built here, not with grandeur but by ordinary men with ordinary goals — to make something a little faster, a little bigger, a little more profitable.” – “A Wild Ride” by Peter St. Onge in 27 Views of Charlotte 

US-National-Whitewater-Center

U.S. National Whitewater Center
About 20 minutes outside of Charlotte lies an outdoor activity center suited for the adventure seeker. Rock climbing, kayaking, ziplining and stand-up paddle boarding are a few of the activities available at the Olympic Training Center. One of the center’s best attributes is its water feature, the largest manmade whitewater river in the world. In addition to outdoor activities, the center also provides some educational opportunities for teams and avid outdoorsmen. The options, along with the accompanying prices, vary, but provide each guest a full and active experience.

In Charlotte, our trees give us a sense of place. Like pickles on hot dogs in Chicago. Or music in Memphis. Some of our trees have been around for more than 150 years, longer than the buildings in our pop-up skyline and much longer than any of us.” – “Rooted” by Virginia Brown in 27 Views of Charlotte 

Needing a bite to eat or want to just relax at the Whitewater Center? Dine at the center’s River’s Edge Bar & Grill. For an extra bonus at no additional cost, you can hear some incredible sounds from artists such as Marc Broussard at the outdoor River Jam on Thursdays and Saturdays from May through September. $-$$$$

Charlotte has something for everyone and for every budget. Grab your fork, some comfortable shoes and a spirit of adventure. You won’t be disappointed.

Photo credits, from top: Charlotte skyline courtesy of CRVA and taken by Patrick Schneider Photography, Cowfish Brento Box by Josh Howard, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art from museum Facebook page and U.S. National Whitewater Center by Josh Howard. 

 

College Fund

College on the Cheap

Originally published via DIG Baton Rouge

College can be some of the best years (no matter how long it takes you) of your life. However, those endless nights of stress and fun can also be some of the financially demoralizing times of your life. With the costs of clothes, food, club organization fees and textbooks, you might want to start hitting your grandmother’s bingo hall now or donate plasma to score some extra cash. We, the 2BRokeGuys, have done it and are here to help you navigate the college circuit without completely busting your piggy bank.

1. Food

When you think of the spoils of college, food will be somewhere close at the top of your list. How can it not? You have dining halls, nearly every fast food chain at your disposal, diners and your mom constantly sending you home with Tupperware of homemade goodness. Besides the concern of getting the “Freshman 15” (that struggle is real), food expenditures can drain your wallet quicker than a typical Taylor Swift relationship lasts, if you’re not on a meal plan. Instead of spending everything on quick eats, go grocery shopping and prep your meals. Grown ups do this all time and for good reason. It makes total sense and saves money. Buy a protein, some veggies and make it stretch for a week. Plus, if you have the room in your kitchen and/or an abundance of food, freeze it and save it for a rainy day (or hurricane party?). When you choose to eat out, Baton Rouge has a few collegiate eateries that won’t leave you completely strapped. Rotolo’s Pizzeria is nice to the college crowd on Wednesdays with their $5 calzones. American Market (adoringly known as AM Mart) has some of the best sandwiches around town and is wonderfully priced. Need a suggestion? Go for the Cajun turkey. You can’t go wrong. Another gem that we love is Uncle E’s Wings & Things. They serve up the largest and most amazingly named food like the chicken finger combo called “Plum Stupid,” and burgers like the “Who Dat” and “Bam Bam.”  Best yet, most of these items are reasonably priced and make you scream, “I’m so excited, I’m so excited…I’m so scared.” (Saved by the Bell, anyone?  Rounding out our two choices for eating around our local campuses, are Louie’s and Chimes. They might not be the cheapest, but while they do provide some low-cost options, they are special musts that cannot be completely avoided.

“I loved that I could get pepper jack hashbrowns, the Louie’s super club or a chocolate brownie sundae at any point in the day so close to campus at Louie’s,” said Rowan Knight, a recent LSU mass communication graduate.

If all else fails, barter with your buddy who has a meal plan, or stock up on ramen noodles.

 2. Clothes

For those who did not have to succumb to wearing school uniforms, college is now your opportunity to lose the plaid or khaki and expand your horizons. However, you might find that you miss the ease of uniformity. How about bringing the uniform back, but in your own fashion.  Maybe it’s a black shirt and jeans every day? It worked for Steve Jobs and no one hated. Adopt your own look and stick with it; just make sure you utilize the washing machine. If that doesn’t work for you, layout your clothes for the week as well after you do your meal prep. It’s another grown up tactic that has proven to save time and money. If you must shop, before heading out to the mall, go to local thrift shops. It’s not a new idea by now thanks to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, but the cost effective factor still holds true. Other options include making money on clothes you already have. Plato’s Closet on Siegen will possibly buy your gently used clothes while you do some shopping of your own. If that doesn’t work for you, try liketwice.com or the fashion-sharing app Copious. Both mediums allow you to share your clothes with friends or strangers electronically and give a whole new meaning to the phrase “sharing is caring.”

3. Textbooks

If you haven’t discovered yet, you will soon learn that textbooks are from the devil. OK, not really, but you feel like you would have to sell your soul to him in order to cover the exorbitant costs of the necessary evil. Before getting sucked into buying books post your orientation, compare prices across the bookstores. Unless the textbook is a brand new edition or penned by your professor (which will happen at one point in your college career), you can usually shop around for competitive pricing. Outside of your campus’ bookstore, other local brick and mortar places include Co-Op Bookstore, Chimes Textbook Exchange, Textbooks Rental and possibly Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million or your local library.

Thanks to Al Gore, the Internet now provides you with more options for textbooks with sites such as Chegg.com, Amazon.com, Half.com, and campusbookrentals.com.

Again, sharing is an option. Asking a classmate to go halfsies on a book is a good way to meet a new friend.

Extra note: Don’t fret if you haven’t purchased all of your books by the first day of classes. There’s a good chance that your professor won’t require reading by the first day. If he/she does, pray hard and quickly look for friends.

Bonus: On-Campus Activities 

Most collegiate activities whether academic, athletic or social, are freely accessible with a student ID. The two local major universities offer free access to their collegiate athletics with some exceptions like football. “From courts and fields to pools and balance beams, student-athletes always enjoy additional fans,” said Hunter Geisman, Assistant Manager of Ticket Operations at LSU. “Each of these on-campus events offers a fun, free and unique experience for students.” Being engaged with school events and organizations can make your college experience. Outside of a few groups, participating in these groups don’t require much outside of your time and usually include free food or perks. Sign up today!

Believe it or not, you can stay financially afloat while in college without sacrificing morals or fun. Plenty establishments around town such as your movie theaters, recreational facilities, restaurants and clothing stores, provide discounts to students. Keep your eyes open and don’t be afraid to ask if there is a student discount. Also, understand that several of your colleagues are in the same financial boat waiting for Dave Ramsey to save you from drowning in debt. Group around each other, throw out the lifeline and get creative. Now is the time to explore the city and the extent two which your mind can take you. Just make sure it’s all under legal pretenses.

When in doubt, you can always follow us on our social media channels and website 2brokeguys.org to figure out what’s going on in our incredible city on a broke budget.

 

lsu view

#UnemployedLife: Tis the Season

What’s up guys? In case you missed our latest Facebook post (you should be following and liking our accounts btw) and to save you all from asking, yes, I’m technically still unemployed. However, I am gainfully busy.

The nerdiest thought hit me at the beginning of August. This was going to be the first year that I was not directly affiliated with school. Yes, I am a youth pastor and that does have connections to schools, but it’s different. Though I never lived on campus, I loved seeing students move in, shopping for the coolest school supplies and getting the newest shoes that would assuredly make you the fastest runner on the yard. This is one of the best seasons of the year next to Christmas!

There was only one way to get over my sad (pathetic?) feelings; I went back to school. During a typical conversation with one of my best friends, he randomly said, “Hey, have you ever thought about going back to school?” It was as if the thought had never occurred to me and was a clear revelation of what I needed to do. I hung onto those words as if they were a hidden immunity idol on Survivor. Of course I had considered returning to college for my masters. I come from a rich history of educators and returning for another degree was always a topic of discussion. Yet, any time someone brought up the idea in the past five years, I would always shut it down quicker than Jennifer Lawrence’s photos were removed. I chalk this random conversation to it being the right person at the right time.

So here’s how it quickly went down…

My buddy mentioned it to me on a Wednesday afternoon, I met with a counselor and applied on Friday and walked back on to LSU’s campus as a master’s candidate on Monday. It was one of the quickest yet most sound decisions I have ever made in my life. I’m not sure when I’ll cross the finish line, but I am so excited to start this new race. Although I’m dealing with being the oldest in a group for the first time, I can’t wait to learn from my classmates and to hopefully share something with them. In between what will be long nights of reading, writing and studying for the GRE, I’ll still be seeking projects to keep food entering my belly (throw some at me if you have any, please). This experience will be fun and I hope you’ll continue to pray for me and follow me along the way.

skyscraping

#UnemployedLife: Possibilities

You know the Sinatra classic “High Hopes“? It’s been running through my head for a couple of weeks now. To make the randomness cooler and more odd, the lyrics appeared on Wheel of Fortune this week.

It’s true. Part of the process of job hunting is interviewing and seeing possible puzzle pieces come together. During that time, you’re nervous, freaking out, and hitting the Jessie Spano.

Last week, I had a lot of possibilities lined up, especially with one potential job.  The interviews went great and I just knew it was mine to crack open and fry up into an incredible omelette. I hardly ever put a ton of eggs into a basket. because it’s not my M.O. However, this job opportunity seemed to be perfect. After receiving “the call” (not the Backstreet Boys forgotten jam), I went in expecting to accept and start the next day.

Thirty minutes later, I had the verdict…the job lead was a no-go. It completely threw me for a loop because I really expected this to be the job. Following that defeating meeting, I had to have a come to Jesus meeting with myself and get to doing the hustle.

When people used to ask me what I did for a profession, I used to always joke about my many side hustles. Now, those side hustles are becoming my main dance.

At the time of writing this, I do not have anything solid. Yet, I have some possibilities. Despite not getting the job, I’m excited about the options. They are all exciting. Until then, I’m looking around because there’s a lot go be learned and I’ve got high hopes.

Pay it Forward

Pay It Forward (c) Warner Brothers

We’re really excited about broadcasting the mantra of paying it forward and taking it to a community level soon. Simply put, paying it forward means that you are passing along goodwill/a favor to someone else in need for no ulterior motive. It could be towards someone who is unsuspecting, friend or organization.

 

If you want more info on it,  here are some references: Pay It Forward Organization or the incredible movie with Kevin Spacey before he was President Underwood simply called Pay It Forward. Stay tuned…

Highway

#UnemployedLife: What’s next?

Since becoming unemployed, one of the main questions I’ve been asked after “what happened?” has been “So, what’s next?” My immediate response was “I’m not sure. I have an idea, but not sure if that’s exactly what I want to do.” It was that incessant question and my elusive response that got me out on the road. I got in the car and booked it to Charlotte, North Carolina.

I was originally planning on going with a friend. However, life happened and I was left to take that 11 hour drive, solo. While nervous at the forefront, the idea of being alone with my thoughts for that extended period of time, kind of excited me. Outside of a college buddy (who happened to be out of town that weekend), I knew no one at the end of my destination. So, by taking the trek with my one-man wolf pack, I was forced to kind of deal with my emotions and talk to Jesus.

I left at 4:00am on a Friday with a goal of arriving at 3:00pm (side note: I forgot I was dealing with a time difference). When it comes to me and road trips, I don’t like stopping more than necessary and my annoyance of backtracking is extremely heightened. Thirty minutes into the trip, I broke both of my zany rules. I left my wallet at my first coffee stop and didn’t realize the error until I had gotten 15 miles away. In my mind, the trip was nearly canceled and this could have been a sign to do so. I would have gone back to sleep and come up with some other activities to occupy myself for the weekend. What led me to get back on the road you might ask? I knew that I needed some answers and a breakthrough. I looked for this road trip titled #br2nc to be my emotional and mental breakthrough.

If you’ve never traveled alone, I highly recommend it. It forces you to do things that are a little uncomfortable, yet wind up being very rewarding. I’ll tell you more about the specifics in an upcoming post. Until then, I’m getting closer to figuring out what is next and I owe a lot of that to my road trip to Charlotte. Stay tuned to hear more and how.